The heat and humidity we’ve just barely experienced recently is only a taste of what’s to come this summer in Southwest Michigan. But can you imagine working with glass heated to more than 2000°F this time of the year?
To avoid anyone having to work in inexplicable conditions, the glass furnace at Benton Harbor’s Water Street Glassworks shuts down for the summer – and Saturday, May 28 marks that ceremonial day.
“You can’t leave glass in the furnace, so we carry on the tradition of a ritual that all glassblowers do,” said Sarah Hess, executive director of Water Street Glassworks.
Extinguish the Fire: A Glassblower’s Ritual will take place from 6 – 9 p.m on May 28 at Water Street Glassworks, located at 140 Water Street in Benton Harbor. The school will perform the annual ritual of emptying the remaining glass in the furnace in some inventive and entertaining ways.
To kick off the festivities, Chef Tim Sizer of Timothy’s in Union Pier and Tim’s Too in St. Joseph will put on a fiery culinary performance. Chef Sizer and his team will cook a four-course meal on molten glass.
Yes, you read that right. The cooking surfaces will be molten glass.
The fundraising efforts will include both a silent and live auction, featuring pieces created by visiting artists and Water Street Glassworks’ faculty. A portion of the money raised at the event will go toward day-to-day operations at the school and installing a state-mandated ventilation system.
Another part of the proceeds will benefit Fired Up!, a teen glass program that was named one of 2009’s Top 50 After-School Programs by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Fired Up! launched in 2004, and since then, the two-year program has taught more than 85 students the art of glassblowing, fusing, beadmaking and stained glass. Additionally, Fired Up! students are given the opportunity to market their work in The Glassworks Gallery and take part in art fairs in the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area each summer.
To help showcase what the fundraising will benefit, a demonstration of the extraordinary art of glassblowing is definitely in order.
After dinner and the auctions, the evening will conclude with a live glass art performance lead by master glassblower and Water Street Glassworks founder Jerry Catania.
Becky Weimer, a glassblowing and beadmaking instructor, will also participate in the demonstration, along with graduates of the Fired Up! program and possibly a few of the school’s board members.
“The board members are a very hands-on group and always in the studio,” said Hess, proving that glassblowing is much more than a hobby – it’s a passion.
Only 75 tickets are available for admission at $100 per person, which includes dinner, two drink tickets, dessert and the opportunity to participate in the auctions. The popular event has always sold out, so call (269) 925-5555 for more information and to purchase a ticket for this engaging and exhilarating night in the Benton Harbor Arts District.
Water Street Glassworks
140 Water Street
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022